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5 Common Skincare Questions About Oily Skin


Oily skin is a common complaint that many people suffer from at some point. In this post, we’ll explore the science behind skin oil production and the factors that can make skin oil worse. Learn how to manage oily skin and what products you should use (and avoid!) to keep oily skin at bay.

What causes oily skin?

side profile woman with oily skin

Your skin needs oil. Skin oil is called sebum, and it’s a mixture of fats, wax, cholesterol, and fatty acids. The main ingredient is squalene, a colorless oil produced by all plants and animals. Your skin oil creates a protective barrier over your skin to shield it from pollutants and irritants in the environment. It also locks in moisture, because water can’t pass easily through it. Finally, sebum helps to balance the pH of your skin, creating an environment that’s harder for bacteria to live in.

Sebum is produced in sebaceous glands. They’re located at the base of hair follicles inside your pores. When sebaceous glands are over productive, they release too much oil, resulting in shiny skin.

Your genetics play an important role in how active your sebaceous glands are. If your parents have oily skin, you are more likely to suffer from it too. Hormone levels also affect these glands. Sebaceous glands respond to male sex hormones, called androgens. The most common androgen is testosterone. That means men are more prone to oily skin than women. However hormone fluctuations with menstrual cycles, or because of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can also make oily skin a problem for many women.

Because sebaceous glands are affected by hormones, it isn’t surprising that many people suffer from oily skin during their teenage years. Puberty sends hormones into overdrive, and this can make oily skin worse. As we age, our hormone levels fall, and oily skin becomes less common.

Our environment also impacts our skin oil. The purpose of sebum is to protect our skin from external irritants and keep our skin hydrated. If you live in a particularly dry location, your body will respond by increasing oil production to compensate. Even in temperate climates, seasonal changes can increase oil production. Oily skin is often more noticeable during hot, humid summer days.

Finally, your skincare routine could be making your oily skin worse. It’s tempting to use strong products designed to strip oils from skin in order to remove the problem, but your skin needs oil to stay healthy. If you remove too much, your sebaceous glands will go into overdrive to compensate, actually making your skin even oilier than before. That’s why it’s important to understand the ingredients in your skincare and use the right combination for your skin’s needs.

What ingredients are best for oily skin?

woman applying skincare cleanser

The goal of your skincare routine should be to balance your skin’s oil production so your skin stays healthy and hydrated, without looking shiny. One of the best ingredients in hyaluronic acid. This is a natural sugar that our bodies use to stay hydrated. The more hydration your skin has, the less oil it needs, so hyaluronic acid is a powerful ingredient for controlling skin oil.

Retinol is also amazing for oily skin. This ingredient is derived from vitamin A, and it helps speed up cellular turnover by helping to slough off old, dead cells. These cells can lead to blocked pores, and that can aggravate your sebaceous glands and send them into overdrive. Retinol is a powerful treatment for blocked and enlarged pores, and that makes it a front line fighter against oily skin.

Another ingredient that has a similar effect to retinol is salicylic acid. This is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) derived from willow bark. It is oil soluble, which means it absorbs best into oily skin. There, it can get deep down inside pores and clear out any blockages. Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in skincare products designed to treat acne, but it also helps to reduce the amount of sebum your body produces.

The last ingredient you should look for to take care of oily skin is niacin (or niacinamide), also known as vitamin B3. This vitamin is important for many of your body’s functions, but especially for your skin. It can help increase the number of healthy fats, known as ceramides, and these are an important component in sebum. Ceramides help bind skin cells together, creating a waterproof barrier that locks in hydration. By making your skin oil more powerful, you need less of it to get its protective effects.

What ingredients are the worst for oily skin?

woman holding soap foam bubbles

Now we know that stripping too much oil from your skin can put your sebum glands into overdrive, it’s easy to spot the first culprits on our Avoid List. Anything containing alcohol or sodium lauryl or laureth sulphate will only make oily skin worse. Both these ingredients are designed to cut through oil and over time they can completely destabilize your skin’s protective barrier.

Oleic acid can also make oily skin worse. It’s found in many natural oils, including coconut, cemalia, and sunflower oil. Oleic acid doesn’t absorb well into the skin, so it can end up creating a greasy film on top that makes oily skin look worse. Instead look for oils containing linoleic acid — good examples include grapeseed, evening primrose, and hemp seed oil.

Comedogenic products. These are products with ingredients that can block pores, and unfortunately every kind of skincare has some comedogenic varieties. This includes makeup, moisturizers, serums, facewash, and more. Instead look for “non comedogenic” on the label, because these products won’t create more problems than they solve.

Do I need moisturizer if I have oily skin?

woman applying moisturizer to hand

When it comes to moisturizer, you’ll hear a lot of people say that people with oily skin don’t need it. That isn’t true. Your skin oil helps trap moisture in your cells, but moisturizer is what helps put it there in the first place. If your skin is dehydrated, you’ll actually produce more sebum to try to trap what little moisture you have.

Moisturizers often contain humectants. These are ingredients that attract moisture and lock it into your cells. This keeps your skin hydrated for longer, reducing the amount of sebum you need to produce.

So moisturizer is necessary for oily skin, but you should still be cautious about which moisturizers you use. Try to avoid anything too heavy. Another type of ingredient common in moisturizers is occlusives. These are ingredients that create a barrier across the skin to block water loss, just like sebum does. If you already have oily skin, you don’t need to add to it. Common occlusives include paraffin, mineral oil, beeswax, and petroleum. Check the ingredients label and try to avoid occlusives as much as possible.

Does washing your face more help oily skin?

woman washing her face

It’s important to wash your face each morning and night. This helps slough off old, dead cells, and removes pollutants you’ve been exposed to during the day. However there’s no need to wash your face more frequently if you have oily skin — and doing so might even make the problem worse.

It all comes down to the fact that your skin needs oil for protection and hydration. Washing your face removes skin oils, and your body will fight to regain its natural balance. That means telling your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil to replace what was lost. Washing your face three, four, or even more times each day will only trap you in a cycle of endlessly stripping oil that your skin tries harder and harder to replace.

Instead, wash your face twice each day using non-foaming, alcohol-free products. These are less likely to destabilize your skin barrier and encourage more oil production. Use a water-based moisturizer containing plenty of humectants after washing to hydrate your skin and reduce the need for more oil. Avoiding the triggers that increase oil production is the best way to avoid oily skin.

How Qyral products tackle oily skin

Now you know that managing oily skin isn’t about removing oil, but about giving your skin what it needs to stop excess sebum production before it starts. But keeping track of all the ingredients to use and avoid can be difficult and time consuming. That’s where Qyral comes in!

Qyral products are personalized to match your skin’s unique needs, so you don’t have to worry if they’re right for your skin. Every stage of our 4-step regimen is designed to help you get your best looking skin, without sending your oil production into overdrive.

  • Accelerate Cellular Revitalizing Serum — uses a customized blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids to unblock pores, increase cell shedding, and hydrate skin
  • Promote BioPlacenta Invigorating Serum — nourishing BioPlacenta keeps your skin in optimal condition with powerful growth factor peptides and nutrients
  • Fortify Nourishing BioPlacenta Moisturizer — uses a personalized blend of humectants to deliver deep hydration in a luxurious yet lightweight formulation with no greasy residue
  • Sustain Cellular Health Supplement — delivers even more nourishing ingredients, including hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated and happy
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